RICHLAND -- The Richland girls soccer team proved once again that the road to the league championship goes through Bomber Field.
The Bombers also got a reminder that keeping the wheels on that road isn't always so easy, scraping out a 3-2 win over Moses Lake to clinch at least a share of their third consecutive CBBN title.
Richland (10-2, 9-1 CBBN 4A) came in looking for a little payback after the Chiefs (7-5, 6-3) beat them in a shootout up in Moses Lake on Sept. 24. This time the Bombers returned the favor, getting a goal and an assist each from Allison Boynton and Katherine Virden, and the eventual game-winner from Kirsten Calmus to open the second half.
"It definitely didn't feel good to lose up there, but we've been working really hard," said Calmus, who scored her fourth goal in the last three games. "We talked at halftime about needing another goal."
Calmus responded almost immediately, blasting a shot from the right side into the left corner off a pass from Boynton in the 42nd minute.
"I started my run, and I saw the defender bite one way," Calmus said. "I knew there would be an opening."
That made it 3-1 with 38 minutes still to play in regulation. Nice to be ahead, thought Richland coach Sara Elfering, but not nice enough.
"A two-goal lead is the scariest in soccer," she said. "It gives you some comfort, but it really isn't any comfort at all. You know they're going to come back at you."
Richland started strong, getting two quick goals in the first six minutes to take a 2-0 lead.
"I thought it was a great start, but I wish we could have gotten a third goal right away. Even with a four-goal spread, I don't know if that's enough against a team like (Moses Lake)," Elfering said.
Virden took a pass from Yesenia Alvarado at the top of the 18-yard box in the fourth minute for a shot that was blocked by a Chiefs defender. But Virden stuck with the play, wheeling around to retrieve the ball and get off a left-footed blast that beat Moses Lake goalkeeper Heidi Palmer to the left side.
Two minutes later, Boynton dribbled down the left wing on a breakaway. She had a full step on Chiefs' defender Kimmi Baker, who was doing everything in her power to stop the faster and stronger Boynton.
"She had my shirt," said Boynton, a converted defender who is well familiar with the tricks of the trade. "I have an idea how to handle that. You've got to keep going to the goal."
As expected, Moses Lake did work its way back into the game using some smart combination play in the middle and good passing from the wings.
Freshman forward Alysha Overland followed up Eilzabeth McGraw's shot off the crossbar in the 29th minute and tapped it past Richland keeper Shelby Long to cut the lead to 2-1.
Shortly after the Bombers extended their lead to 3-1, Stephanie Overland dribbled up the right wing and found Caylah Lunning on a run down the right hash. Lunning made a brilliant touch with just enough english to curl it inside the near post to cut it to 3-2.
"It's been a good road. The girls have bonded together quickly and bought into the program," said Ricardo Char, now in his 10th year at Moses Lake. "It's been a slow progression. My first year we came here and got pummelled 14-0."
Trailing 3-2 in the final minute, the scrappy Chiefs watched a golden scoring opportunity pass them by. Stephanie Overland dropped in a pass from the left wing to McGraw, who was stationed right in front of the net about 8 yards out. The pass took a high bounce, but McGraw -- with a clear, point-blank shot -- volleyed it a few feet over the net.
"That's the game of soccer. Sometimes those go in, and sometimes they don't," Char said. "I understand she's just a freshman and we're still trying to convert her to forward. I told her I still trusted her.
"The next time that happens, she's going to put it in."
Scoring--1, R, Katherine Virden (Yesenia Alvarado), 4:00; 2, R, Allie Boynton (Virden), 6:00; 3, ML, Alysha Overland (Elizabeth McGraw), 29:00; 4, R, Kirsten Calmus (Boynton), 42:00; 5, ML, Caylah Lunning (Stephanie Overland), 46:00. Shots--ML 7, R 13. Saves--ML, Heidi Palmer 4. R, Shelby Long 2.